Sep 11, 2015 | By Alec

As any great guitar player will tell you, the essential concept behind an electric guitar has stayed virtually the same since the days of Les Paul himself. The sound itself is determined by the pickup embedded beneath the strings, and changing the sound would require you to completely tear your guitar apart. But what if there was a different way? With the help of 3D printing, the Brooklyn-based Strassell Guitars have come up with a fantastic concept: 3D printed bridge pickup cartridges that are easily swapped in seconds, completely transforming the guitar. This fantastic concept has just launched on Indiegogo.

Strassell Guitars is a modest Brookylin-based company founded by Andrew Strassel a few years ago, with this exact purpose in mind. In fact, he has been tinkering with guitars since he was thirteen, and the idea of innovating it has haunted him for a long time. ‘[Laying in bed one night] I was thinking, 'How could I innovate the guitar? How could I change the normal way of doing things?’ he told reporters from Mic. Now run out of a small apartment, the company is growing and has achieved remarkable success with the early version of the new Strassell Guitar – even developing a complete Flying V-style guitar for Josh Shabtai of the NYC synth/punk band Controller. ‘The guitar was built to custom specifications and designed to accommodate Shabtai's need for a massive low-end blended with sharp, post-punky bite,’ Andrew says. See in action below.

So how is this concept different? Because until now, improving and transforming an existing guitar is almost impossible to yourself. ‘If you play electric guitar, you know that the reason a guitar sounds the way it does is because of the pickups–the electronics underneath the strings–that detect the vibrations of the guitar’s strings. Traditionally, if you want a different guitar sound, you have to buy a completely new guitar or rip your guitar apart, rewire it and put it back together,’ Andrew explains. And if you’ve spent two thousand dollars on a guitar, why would you risk it?

Fortunately, Strassel saw the pickup as something potent. With the help of 3D printing and a custom-designed body, he has created a guitar model where the pickup is no longer embedded and (almost) permanent, but something that slots into place whenever the owner chooses. It might be best compared to a Nintendo 64 cartridge that can be inserted and removed in a matter of seconds. Without any effort at all, these 3D printed cartridges turn a tone from clean and twangy to fuzzed out and solid. You could even turn the cartridge 180 degrees and get a completely different feel to it.

It brings custom sounds to the masses of players out there, and for a reasonable price. In fact, Andrew feels that local bands and low-budget players are exactly the people that could use it. ‘Local bands — that's the group of people who are going benefit most from this. They no longer have to go out and spend $1,500 on a Les Paul that they're never going to want to take apart, because they spend $1,500 for it,’ he explains. ‘It's more high end than a cheap Korean-built guitar, and this gives you far more options.’

And player’s like Controller’s Shabtai fit that picture exactly. ‘I've always been looking for crazy-looking guitar sounds, always playing around with a battery of effects,’ the guitarist said in response. His band’s music moves across a wide spectrum of sounds, from indie-dance to noise rock, so a single guitar embedded with all that power is exactly what they need. ‘I was psyched to get this ready for the new songs in the studio. A lot of them I'll move from playing rhythm part and pop out [the pickups] to get some tripped-out delay effects,’ Shabtai said.

Andrew Strassell further argued that this kind of 3D printing innovation is exactly what the guitar industry needs. ‘The industry hasn't pushed the innovation agenda. They've relied far more on, 'Oh, here's the reissue of the thing we did in 1960.' I think there's a demand for innovation in their instruments and figuring out a new way,’ he says. And the feedback received so far from professionals suggests that he is definitely on the right track.

And this is where crowdfunding comes in. Right now, Strassell only has the capacity to move from ordered guitar to ordered guitar, but through an Indiegogo campaign they hope to boost production to the next level and become a full-fledged guitar manufacturer. To do so, they are hoping to raise $50,000 which will all go towards company expansion. And of course, backing will enable you to get your hands on one of these cool guitars too – a pledge of $2500 will do. Check them out on Indiegogo here



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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